At Promise Academy, a school for at-risk
students in the Harlem Children’s Zone, teacher Sophie Richard tutored a child
to prepare him for a crucial test. One afternoon, when the young boy was tired
and frustrated, she tried to offer him words of encouragement, but he

interrupted her.  “Why should I care
about this test?” he demanded.  “No one
cares how I do on this test. I don’t care either.” “But I care about how you do,” Richard replied. And with those words,
tears sprang to the boy’s eyes and started running down his face. “Why do you care?” he asked. “Because this is
your future, and I care deeply about you.”
We’re hungrier than we know for someone to
care about how we do and, even more, to care deeply for us—to love us in a way
that energizes us for a better and gladder life.  Journalist Paul Tough described the love which
this teacher had for her student as “the X factor, the magic ingredient . . .   If the
kids didn’t get that, all the tutoring in the world might not help them” (Whatever It Takes, 186).
Without love, creative methodologies,
ingenious technologies, expert knowledge, and abundant resources will not solve
any of our most pressing problems. Without love, no matter how committed you
are, how hard you work, and how smart you are, nothing saving, transforming,
and gladdening will happen. Only love can connect us to the life we long to
We’re trapped in all too familiar vicious
cycle: hurt people hurt people. Indifference leads to more indifference. Fear
generates more fear.  Because of what I
have seen, heard, and felt about God through the story of Jesus, I believe that
God’s love has the power to break this painful and desperate cycle, to
overwhelm hurt with healing, and to transform indifference  into compassion.
Divine love makes it possible for us to open our
hearts, to take down our defenses, to come out of hiding, and, at last, to live–to
live, not merely to exist. God will
make of our hearts a haven of hope, a shelter of peace, and a home of joy. And,
living from an open heart, we embrace the world with welcoming grace and tender